Frank Field revealed today he was considering quitting the Commons immediately to fight a by-election on Labour’s anti-Semitism crisis after he plunged the party into turmoil by resigning the whip.
The veteran MP said being sacked by the electorate would be a ‘noble way to go’ if he was proved wrong after blasting Labour as a ‘force for anti-Semitism’.
Mr Field, 76, will be told by Labour’s chief whip today that his plan to quit the parliamentary party while staying a card-carrying Labour member is not allowed.
Expulsion as a Labour member could force Mr Field’s hand and push other MPs to consider their own future in the party escalating the crisis for leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Labour MP Wes Streeting warned the Labour now faces a ‘catastrophic’ split as others will follow Mr Field and quit.
Jeremy Corbyn has dismissed Mr Field’s resignation in a terse 12-word statement while sources close to the leader claimed the veteran MP had been looking for an excuse to quit before sacked by his local party.
Frank Field (pictured in Westminster last night) revealed today he was considering quitting the Commons immediately to fight a by-election on Labour’s anti-Semitism crisis
Mr Field told The Times he was ‘obviously thinking about’ a by-election and had to ‘consider options’.
He said: ‘I want to stand as the Labour candidate for Birkenhead but, if not, I will stand as the independent Labour candidate — and if the electorate doesn’t want me then that is a very noble way to go.’
Labour’s shadow justice secretary and Corbyn ally Richard Burgon last night called on Mr Field to fight a by-election.
Blunkett reveals he pleaded with Field to stay and fight hard-left again
Ex-Home Secretary David Blunkett (file) urged Field to stay and fight for his party
David Blunkett revealed today he pleaded with Frank Field not to resign and instead fight on against the hard left.
The ex-Labour Home Secretary said Mr Field had won his fight in the 1980s when Militant dominated Labour politics.
The pair battled in favour of mainstream Labour values during the Thatcher years in a bid to make the party electable.
Mr Blunkett told the Telegraph: ‘I understand that his constituency party membership has been giving him an incredibly hard time, which is unforgivable and reminds me vividly of the Eighties, when I was involved as a member of the national executive committee in dealing with these people, particularly from Merseyside.’
He said: ‘Politicians who are elected as Labour MPs by their constituents and who then leave the Labour Party should do the right and respectful thing and call a by-election straight away.
‘They should ask for their constituents’ consent to continue to represent them on a different basis.’
Announcing his bombshell resignation last night, Mr Field said he finally made the tough decision after former chief rabbi Lord Sacks accused Mr Corbyn of being an anti-Semite.
Lord Sacks was responding to a video, exclusively revealed by MailOnline, in which Mr Corbyn told a meeting that British ‘Zionists’ had ‘no sense of English irony’.
Labour deputy leader Tom Watson said the resignation was a ‘serious loss’ for Labour and must be a ‘wake up call’ for the party. He said:
It reflects both the deep divisions in the party and the sense of drift engulfing us.
‘It is a major wake up call. We cannot afford to lose people of such weight and stature.’
And Mr Streeting warned that Labour is teetering on the edge of a ‘catastrophic split’, telling Sky News: ‘Frank Field isn’t the first and I fear Frank Field wont be the last.’
Labour MP Lucy Powell took to Twitter to say that the party ‘must do more’ to tackle anti-Semitism.
The Manchester Central MP said: ‘I spent much of today speaking to local party members who had been in touch to say they were resigning. Some had been subject to anti-Semitism from other members.
‘I managed to persuade most to stay, but we must do more to demonstrate we are serious about tackling this issue.’
Frank Field, 76, (pictured on Sky News last night) has announced his shock resignation from Labour’s parliamentary party and blamed Jeremy Corbyn and the anti-Semitism scandal for his decision to quit
The move is a major blow for Jeremy Corbyn (pictured earlier this month at the Troxy in London) who has seen his party torn apart by the anti-Semitism scandal. Labour MPs have warned hat others will follow Frank Field – causing a split in the party
Labour MP Wes Streeting warned the Labour now faces a ‘catastrophic’ split as others will follow Mr Field and quit
Shadow justice secretary and Corbyn loyalist Richard Burgon said that Frank Field should be forced to hold a by-election so that voters can boot him out of office if they want to
Labour MP Siobhain McDonagh paid tribute to Frank Field’s work on Twitter after the announcement
Labor Mp Neil Coyle hit back at Corbynista columnist Owen Jones’ claim that Mr Field jumped before he was pushed, and said he helped lift millions out of poverty with his work
He added: ‘I fear the political crisis facing the Labour Party now is the greatest we have faced since 1981.
‘We have seen already this summer speculation of a split, I think this would be a catastrophic moment for the left in British politics.
‘I think it would surrender the government of this country to the Conservatives for another term if not another generation.’
On the Conservative side, Home Secretary Sajid Javid said: First met Frank Field when I was 19 and he spoke @UniofExeter. Admired him ever since. We have our political differences, but he’s a man of integrity and principle. Sad what Labour has become.’
Fellow Tory MP Marcus Jones said: ‘Frank Field is an honourable man. I was astonished at how a group of his own colleagues rounded on him so aggressively in an EU Withdrawal Bill debate. This looks like the final straw.’
Who is Frank Field MP and why has he quit the Labour Parliamentary Party?
Frank Field has led the charge in some of the most high-profile crusades against British businessmen in recent times.
As chair of the powerful pensions select committee, the veteran MP’s most notable campaign was fought against retail tycoon Sir Philip Green over the collapse of BHS.
Sir Philip owned the retailer for 15 years before selling it to serial bankrupt Dominic Chappell in 2015.
It collapsed one year later, leaving in its wake 11,000 job losses and a £571 million pension black hole.
An enraged Mr Field immediately set about pursuing Sir Philip with the aim of clawing back cash for pensioners.
After hauling the billionaire to parliament and subjecting him to an hours-long roasting, and after a very public war of words, Sir Philip agreed to pay £363 million towards the pension deficit.
More recently, Mr Field has trained his guns on another corporate debacle, that of Carillion.
The outsourcer’s liquidation in January left a £900 million debt pile and hundreds of millions of pounds in unfinished public contracts, as well a £800 million pension deficit.
Mr Field has argued that Carillion’s pensioners, suppliers and employees have borne the brunt of its failure, while former directors and the firm’s auditors have raked in millions.
In characteristic tone, the MP for Birkenhead earlier this year savaged Britain’s big four accountancy firms – KPMG, PwC, Deloitte and EY – accusing them of ‘feasting on the carcass’ of Carillion and collecting more than £70 million in the process.
Mr Field’s shock departure comes just six weeks after John Woodcock quit the party blasting Mr Corbyn’s leadership, and has fuelled fears the party will split.
It comes after many weeks of Labour civil war over the anti-Semitism scandal as Mr Corbyn has been hit by a series of highly damaging allegations about his views and failure to tackle the racism festering among some of his members.
In an excoriating attack on Labour under Mr Corbyn, Mr Field warned the party has been swamped with ‘thuggish’ recruits who are bullying long-standing members.
He said his resignation was a ‘plea for action’ and he desperately hopes that the party leadership will finally wake up and tackle the racism.
But Mr Field is refusing to quit as a Labour Party member – insisting hat he will not be bullied and ‘driven out of town’ and the party he has been a member of for 60 years.
It means that he faces being expelled form the party within a fortnight as the organisation’s rules dictate that you cannot by member in Parliament while not being a Labour MP.
The Birkenhead MP was first elected in 1979 when Margaret Thatcher swooped into power, and continued as a Labour MP throughout the long years in the wilderness before Tony Blair’s election.
He saw off an attempt by far-left activists to deselect him in the 1980s, and he has faced a similar treat in recent months after he backed Brexit.
Mr Streeting tonight said that Labour members are being ‘badly let down’ by the leadership’s refusal to ‘face down’ ugly characters who have been recruited to the party’s ranks.
He added: ‘The Labour leadership need to move pretty fast to avoid the catastrophic split in the Labour Party that we saw in the 1980s.’
Mr Corbyn thanked Mr Field for his decades of service.
But the fightback among Corbyn loyalists kicked off immediately – with Labour sources claiming that the MP had been ‘looking for an excuse to resign for some time’.
While Richard Burgon, the shadow justice secretary and Corbyn loyalist, called for Mr Field to fight a by-election so that voters have the opportunity to boot him out.
The Campaign Against Antisemitism organisation said Mr Field’s decision to resign was further evidence the Labour Party had become ‘infested with anti-Semitism.’
Euan Philipps spokesman for the Labour Against Antisemitism campaign group, said: ‘The resignation of the Labour whip by Frank Field MP is a further sign that Jeremy Corbyn is failing to get to grips with the antisemitism crisis that has raged across the summer and engulfed his party.
‘At a time when Labour should be providing a strong and credible opposition to Theresa May’s government and fighting against a hard Brexit, we are instead seeing a senior Labour figure clash with Mr Corbyn over his handling of a crisis that is not only shameful but is almost entirely of the leader’s own making.’
He added: ‘Things must change: this situation cannot continue. If the Labour Party is to retain any semblance of its once-proud reputation of anti-racism then it is surely time for Mr Corbyn to do the decent thing and resign.’
Mr Field is the second Labour MP to resign the party whip and go independent in protest at Mr Corbyn’s leadership.
He remains a card-carrying member of the party but will not follow orders from the whips office.
Who will be next to jump ship from Labour?
MIKE GAPES has told colleagues it is ‘over’ for him.
LUCIANA BERGER has faced appalling abuse online.
WES STREETING is an outspoken critic of Mr Corbyn.
KATE HOEY faces deselection in her constituency.
MARGARET HODGE called Mr Corbyn an anti-Semite.
CHRIS LESLIE is an arch-critic of the Labour leader.
Barrow MP Mr Woodcock made the same move earlier this summer, and Mike Gapes, the Ilford South MP, has been the focus of speculation he could also resign.
He told MailOnline tonight he was still an Labour MP.
Labour leader Mr Corbyn has been embroiled in anti-Semitism scandal for months and last week MailOnline revealed footage of him dismissing British Zionists as not properly English.
Mr Field said this statement – and the former chief rabbi’s condemnation of it – was the ‘straw that broke the camel’s back.
He told Sky News: ‘The Jewish community in this country is desperately worried about our behaviour and I hope when the NEC meets in September that Jeremy will adopt the international definition on anti-Semitism.’
He also tore into the ‘thuggery’ and ‘bullying’ carried out by osme of the influx of new members – but vowed to stay on in the party.
He said: ‘I ma not going to be run out of town by a group of people who have recently joined and until recently were standing against us.’ That’s not the life for me.’
In his letter Mr Field said: ‘I am resigning the whip for two principal reasons.
‘The first centres on the latest example of Labour’s leadership becoming a force for antisemitism in British politics.
‘The latest example, from last week, comes after a series of attempts by Jeremy to deny the past statements and actions by him were anti-Semitic.
‘Britain fought the Second World War to banish these views from our politics, but that superhuman effort and success is now under huge and sustained internal attack.
In a letter to the party, it is thought Mr Field blames the continuing row over Jeremy Corbyn and anti-Semitism for his decision
‘The leadership is doing nothing substantive to address this erosion of our core values.
‘It saddens me to say that we are increasingly seen as a racist party. This issue alone compels me to resign the whip.’
Mr Field also raised concerns about the ‘thuggish conduct’ of some members in his local party and the lack of action against them.
He said the party’s actions served to ‘legitimise appalling levels of bullying and intimidation’.
Mr Field said that he intended to continue representing Birkenhead in Westminster as an Independent.
He added: ‘I also intend, providence willing, to represent those views when the next election is called.’
A Labour Party spokesperson said: ‘Jeremy Corbyn thanks Frank Field for his service to the Labour Party.’
A Labour source said: ‘Frank has been looking for an excuse to resign for some time.’
Deputy leader Mr Watson said: ‘This is a serious loss to the party… It is a major wake up call. We cannot afford to lose people of such weight and stature.’
The Campaign Against Antisemitism charity said Mr Field’s decision to resign was further evidence the Labour Party had become ‘infested with antisemitism.’
Corbyn loyalist frontbencher says Frank Field should hold a by-election after shock resignation
A Labour frontbencher and Corbyn loyalist has said that Frank Field should hold a by-election after he quit hte party whip.
Mr Field, who has been a Labour MP for nearly 40 years, announced he would now sit as an independent – blaming Jeremy Corbyn and the anti-Semitism scandal.
But while other Labour MPs were paying tribute to Mr Field’s work, Richard Burgon said he should be forced to fight another election.
The shadow justice secretary tweeted: ‘Politicians who are elected as Labour MPs by their constituents and who then leave the Labour Party should do the right and respectful thing and call a by-election straight away.
‘They should ask for their constituents’ consent to continue to represent them on a different basis.’
Labour sources have since said that Field’s wish to serve as an Independent MP while remaining a member of the party is ‘not possible’.
Under the Parliamentary Labour Party standing orders, which governs MPs, anyone who takes such action will usually get a letter asking them to retake the party whip within 14 days or face expulsion.
Mr Field is understood to be meeting the chief whip on Friday to discuss the matter further.
Gideon Falter, chairman of the group, said: ‘It is very sad that after almost 40 years as a Labour MP, Frank Field felt morally compelled to resign the Labour whip because the party that was fiercely anti-racist when he joined it has now become infested with anti-Semitism.’
He added: ‘The indications are that others may now follow where Frank Field has led.’
Tory chairman Brandon Lewis said: ‘Frank Field’s resignation is a damning indictment of Jeremy Corbyn’s total inability to take action against bullying and anti-Semitic racism within Labour.
‘Despite promising a ‘kinder politics’, time and time again Corbyn has allowed people to get away with doing and saying things which have no place in public life.
‘If other Labour MPs don’t follow Frank Field’s example, they are continuing to endorse Jeremy Corbyn’s abject failure to act.’
Theresa May yesterday warned Mr Corbyn that ‘anti-Semitism is racism’ as she demanded he finally act to stamp out vile abuse in Labour.
The Prime Minister offered her backing to ex-chief rabbi Jonathan Sacks who this week branded Mr Corbyn an ‘anti-Semite’ and compared him to Enoch Powell.
Speaking in Nigeria during her tour of Africa, Mrs May said Lord Sacks raised ‘significant concerns’ and was only the latest to speak out.
She said: ‘I think the leader of the Labour Party needs to respond to those concerns.’
Yesterday he British Board of Deputies today wrote to Labour’s General Secretary Jennie Formby with a renewed demand for action against anti-Semitism.
Chief Executive Gillian Merron said it was ‘beyond contention’ Mr Corbyn had shared platforms with anti-Semites and terrorist sympathisers.
And she said a video revealed by MailOnline of Mr Corbyn speaking in 2013 showed the Labour leader using a ‘classic racist trope’.
A petition launched by the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism for Mr Corbyn to resign has been signed by more than 30,000 people as the furious row continues to escalate.
Mr Corbyn is facing a fresh storm of controversy after MailOnline unearthed another video showing him accusing MPs of having their contributions to a debate written by the Israeli ambassador.
Earlier this week Lord Sacks (file image) said a tape of Mr Corbyn attacking English Zionist Jews was the most offensive remark by a British politician since Enoch Powell’s Rivers of Blood speech in 1968
Jews, including the Labour MP Luciana Berger (pictured) have repeatedly demanded Mr Corbyn tackle anti-Semitism inside Labour
In full: Frank Field’s letter resigning from the Labour Party
Birkenhead MP Frank Field has written to Labour chief whip Nick Brown tendering his resignation from the party. This is his letter in full:
I am writing with considerable sadness to inform you of my intention to sit as an Independent Labour Member of Parliament. I am resigning the whip for two principal reasons.
The first centres on the latest example of Labour’s leadership becoming a force for anti-Semitism in British politics. The latest example, from last week, comes after a series of attempts by Jeremy to deny that past statements and actions by him were anti-Semitic.
Britain fought the Second World War to banish these views from our politics, but that superhuman effort and success is now under huge and sustained internal attack. The leadership is doing nothing substantive to address this erosion of our core values. It saddens me to say that we are increasingly seen as a racist party. This issue alone compels me to resign the whip.
The second reason is that a culture of intolerance, nastiness and intimidation now reigns in too many parts of the Party nationally and is sadly manifest within my own Constituency Labour Party (CLP) in Birkenhead. This is, I fear, just one example of a phenomenon that has tightened its grip on CLPs across the country and is being driven, in part, by members who in previous years would never have been able to claim Labour Party membership.
My original submission to the Party on a specific bullying issue goes back eighteen months. Many submissions have since come from me as well as from loyal Party members. No decisive action has been taken. At best, the Party’s failure to act on these numerous complaints about the thuggish conduct of some members demonstrates a wilful denial. At worst, it serves to legitimise appalling levels of bullying and intimidation of lifelong Labour supporters.
You know that I wrote to the Labour Party nine months ago about the atrocious behaviour of the then councillor Louise Reecejones. That Ms Reecejones should not be a member of the Party, let alone represent us in public positions, has been underscored by decisions taken by Wirral Council.
As you know, she was found guilty of using her position as a councillor to intimidate members of the public. She has refused to apologise properly for her behaviour, and for breaching the Council’s code of conduct, even though one of those on the receiving end of her attack has only now a precarious hold on their livelihood.
The charge sheet against this individual’s suitability ever to hold office, let alone represent the Labour Party, has been detailed to you in separate correspondence. While she was withdrawn as a Council candidate in Wallasey, she has still been able to join the Party’s shortlist for another seat and continues to hold an official position within the local Party.
I intend to continue to represent Birkenhead in Westminster, as I have had the honour to do so for almost 40 years, and I will continue to do so as an Independent Labour Member. I shall of course remain a Party member as I have been since 1960. The values I have espoused during this time will be same that will continue to govern my conduct and I also intend, providence willing, to represent those views when the next election is called.
Few events would give me greater pleasure than to apply to the Parliamentary Labour Party for the whip. But great changes in the leadership’s stance on the issues outlined in this letter will need to take place before I will be able to do so.
What is the timeline of anti-Semitic scandals which have erupted under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership?
Jeremy Corbyn (pictured) has been accused of failing to tackle the racism among his supporters
The anti-Semitism scandal has dogged Labour since Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader in 2015.
Here is a timeline of the controversies:
Labour MP Naz Shah is suspended for anti-Semitic posts – including one in which she appeared to endorse calls for Israelis to be deported to the US.
She apologised and was given a formal warning.
Ken Livingstone goes on the radio to defend Ms Shah – but sparks fresh controversy by claiming that Hitler supported Zionism.
He is suspended by Labour but refuses to apologise and has repeated the claim many times.
He eventually quits Labour two years later, saying his suspension has become a distraction.
A two-month inquiry by civil liberties campaigner Shami Chakrabarti finds that Labour is not overrun by anti-Semitism.
But the launch is overshadowed when Jewish Labour MP Ruth Smeeth flees it in tears after being accused by Corbyn supporter Marc Wadsworth of colluding with the press.
Critics accuse the report of being a whitewash and Ms Chakrabarti is widely criticised for accepting a peerage from Jeremy Corbyn shortly afterwards.
The Home Affairs Select Committee says Labour is guilty of incompetence over its handling of anti-Semitism and of creating a safe space for people with ‘vile attitudes towards Jewish people’.
It is revealed that Jeremy Corbyn defended an artist who painted an anti-Semitic mural and said the offensive art should be removed.
He apologises saying he did not properly look at the picture before he made the post.
Jewish leaders take the unprecedented step of holding a demonstration outside Parliament protesting Mr Corbyn’s failure to tackle anti-Semitism.
Several Labour MPs address the crowds.
Marc Wadsworth is expelled from Labour after being accused of anti-Semitism.
Meanwhile, Labour Jewish MPs tell of the anti-Semitic abuse they have suffered in a powerful parliamentary debate – and round on their leader for failing to tackle it.
The Labour leadership sparks fresh anger by failing to fully adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism
Peter Willsman, a strong ally of Jeremy Corbyn, is secretly taped ranting that ‘Jewish Trump fanatics’ invented the anti-Semitism storm engulfing Labour.
In an angry diatribe at a meeting of Labour’s ruling executive committee, he said he was ‘amazed’ there was evidence party members hated Jews.
He claimed ‘some of these people in the Jewish community support Trump – they are Trump fanatics’ before shouting: ‘So I am not going to be lectured to by Trump fanatics making up duff information without any evidence at all.’
Jeremy Corbyn issues a video insisting he is committed to tackling the racism – but it is panned by Jewish leaders.
Corbynistas mount a social media campaign to get deputy Labour leader Tom Watson to quit after he criticises the party’s handling of anti-Semitism.
The Daily Mail exclusively publishes photos of Jeremy Corbyn holding a wreath at a ceremony where a terrorist linked to the Munich massacre was honoured.
The Labour leader insists he was there to honour others killed – but faces fresh calls to quit over the scandal.